Beautiful green spaces to lose a few hours in…
1. National Arboretum, Tetbury
If it’s leaves you’re after, your first stop has got to be the National Arboretum in Westonbirt. This is one of the largest collections in the world, with 18,000 trees to content yourself with, including two giant sequoias that guard the entrance, and a rare Japanese Maple.
2. Richmond Park, Surrey
Often described as the “lungs” of London, Richmond Park is the capital’s largest green space. In its centre is the Isabella Plantation, an ornamental woodland filled with azaleas, ferns, oaks and chestnut trees. Hard to believe that it was once just a bog. Talk about humble origins…
3. Alderley Edge, Cheshire
There’s a kind of mysticism among the trees at Alderley Edge . Children’s author Alan Garner was inspired to write his fantasy novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, after visiting the Wizard’s Well here (which is actually a natural spring). What’s more, ‘The Edge’s’ highest point – the Beacon – was once a Bronze Age burial mound.
4. Grizedale Forest, Lake District
Grizedale Forest is very much an interactive woodland experience. On the Ridding Wood Trail, you’ll see dozens of sculptures by the likes of Andy Goldsworthy and David Nash, dotted between the trees. Better still, you’re encouraged to play with some of them – like the forest xylophone…
5. Eaves Wood, Lancashire
Eaves Wood is ancient; you can tell that by the size of its trees and by the vistas, which haven’t altered in centuries. If there’s a rustling behind you, don’t be alarmed; it’s probably just one of the resident deer, foxes, squirrels or hares.
6. Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
There’s more to England’s most famous forest than Robin Hood, you know. Besides its association with a certain medieval outlaw, Sherwood Forest contains some of the oldest (and fattest) oaks in England – including the Major Oak, which is thought to date back 1000 years. But it doesn’t look a day over 500.
7. Ashdown Forest, East Sussex
You can’t really get more English than the Ashdown Forest , with sweet chestnut, silver birches, oaks and beeches all growing here, and views of the gently rolling Sussex countryside. Deer run wild in the forest, but its most famous inhabitant is a fictional teddy bear called Winnie The Pooh.
8. Leigh Woods, Bristol
At first glance Leigh Woods looks like your average broadleaf woodland – until you look a bit closer and see the Iron Age fort from 300 BC, the rare Bristol whitebeam trees and fabulous views of Brunel’s suspension bridge and the Avon Gorge. All this and more, on the doorstep of Bristol...
9. Thetford Forest, Norfolk
Thetford Forest is one big natural playground, which you can explore by bike, pony, foot or even on a rope swing. And if you’re really up for a challenge, why not have a go at the forest’s orienteering course, which is run all year round?
10. Epping Forest, Essex
Queen Elizabeth I is rumoured to have hunted in Epping Forest , and notorious highwayman Dick Turpin used it as a hideout. Today, though you’re more likely to bump into ramblers and nature-lovers, who’ve claimed this forest of gnarled old bark and ancient oaks as their own.
Psst... Handy Hints
Take one of the free guided walks held at the Westonbirt Arboretum to find out more about its trees
While visiting Alderley Edge, pop into the small but perfectly formed Hare Hill estate to see their tranquil gardens.
If you want some adventure with your trees, Go Ape at Grizedale with Tarzan swings and zip slides.
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